Author Archives: George Simmers

After many years as a teacher, I retired and began researching for a Ph.D. on the fiction of the Great War – especially the books, stories and plays that were written during the War or immediately afterwards.

A Middlebrow Manifesto

I’m have a fondness for books that manage to include a literary manifesto of some sort, and the openingpages of Francis Brett Young’s Jim Redlake (1930) contain what amounts to a declaration of what a novel ought to be, and how novelists should confront the world. It does so implicitly, by contrast, in its very […]

Marching on Tanga

Now here’s an oddity. The same book, issued by the same publisher. One edition is labelled fiction, the other travels and adventure. From what I can gather the first was published in 1940, the second in 1941. With books about war, it’s often difficult to tell novel from memoir. Novels can contain big chunks of […]

‘Illusions of Peace’ at the NAM

I should have given a blog mention to this before the event (but don’t worry, you can still book up for tomorrow’s sessions – details later). I’ve spent the day at the first day of an online conference about the aftermath of the Great War. Illusions of Peace is hosted by the National Army Museum, […]

William John Chapman

Dear Jane,Thank you for your kind offer to find details of William Chapman’s naval career. I have now done some basic research, but I wonder whether you would be able to cast some light on the documents that I have discovered. William John Chapman, my great-grandfather, was born in 1846, in Plymouth, which may suggest […]

Sergeant-Major George Simmers

My sister died fifteen years ago, and last week her husband sent me scans of some of the older family photos she had put long ago into a box. The prize piece was a family group, in the centre of which was this smart man, in civvies but with something of a military air. He […]

Kipling and Sanatogen

Anyone around in the fifties and sixties will recall advertisements for Sanatogen, the tonic wine that ‘fortifies the over-forties’. It was a standard joke during those decades, I think, on anyone’s fortieth birthday, to present them with a bottle of the stuff. Back then, many more people than today were teetotallers, but some were reluctant […]

Talking about Rose

This week I gave a Zoom talk about Rose Allatini, at the kind invitation of the Huddersfield University Research Seminars. It was good to do. This year I had three academic conferences lined up at which I was to give a paper, and each of them has either been cancelled, or has disappeared into the […]

The New Stunt

Wartime cartoonists loved a white feather joke, and some even managed to find one after the war had finished. This is from London Opinion, 1921: As usual, an opinionated older woman is accusing a man, but this is 1921. The war is over, and we should be putting it behind us, so she’s demanding: ‘Young […]

On War Memorials

For much of my life I was indifferent to war memorials. They stood there in the middle of every town and village, often useful as landmarks, but surely all more or less the same? It was only when I started seriously studying the Great War, and especially its cultural effects, that I began to realise […]

The Yoke (1907) by Hubert Wales

I’ve been thinking again recently about Kipling’s literary treatment of syphilis, so am looking around to see how other writers treated the theme during his lifetime. The most common approach is the moralistic: a sinner receives the wages of sin. There were alternatives, though, and I’ve just been reading The Yoke, a scandalous novel of […]